Wise Sons, the popular Mission deli, opened a bagel shop in the Fillmore earlier this year. But I waited till after my trip to New York this summer because I wanted a baseline since the people behind Wise Sons said they couldn’t find the perfect New York-style bagel in the Bay Area.
I visited with my friend Steve a couple of weekends ago, and the tiny shop seemed pretty popular with a constant flow of people lining up for the bagels and bagel sandwiches. As a first-timer, the set up can be a bit overwhelming at Wise Sons because there’s no clear indication where to order and the menu posted on the big marquee signs above the counter actually don’t list all the offerings. (Best thing is to grab one of the paper menus and look it over while you’re in line.)
With the typical variety of bagels and shmear, Wise Sons breaks the norm of a typical New York bagel shop by offering bagel sandwiches with traditional ingredients such as smoked salmon and smoked trout salad, but also unlikely items like hummus, smoked turkey, and “hippie greens” (that’s on the East Coast Veggie).
I was wavering between the smoked salmon ($10) and the “Bodega Egg and Cheese” ($7), and when I got up to the counter, the guy behind the register said I could combine them, which was the perfect solution for my indecisive moment. (Steve was just as indecisive so ordered the same thing.)
The combo, though, is simply a slimmed down version of the smoked salmon sandwich (no capers, no red onions), and is basically the egg and cheese sandwich with smoked salmon added on top.
The overall sandwich was good, but nothing special. The sesame bagel that I had had a nice texture and chew to it, but what I found was that the ingredients seem to overpower the bagels, which I didn’t really feel when eating in New York (even when the bagels there were piled on with shmear). Not sure if maybe the heft of the bagels at Wise Sons are a tad smaller in density?
The bagel sandwich turned out to be not enough for our “brunch” so Steve and I decided to split the smoked trout salad ($9), which was my first time having smoked trout salad. It tasted fine but seemed a tad salty (Steve thought maybe the salt came from the everything bagel we had with it).
We finished with a slice of babka ($9). It comes in cinnamon and chocolate version and we got the cinnamon, which was subtle in flavor but nice and airy.
Side note: I found it odd that even though we were dining in, the workers putting together the order automatically bags everything to take away, which to me seems like a real waste of paper. On a positive note, Wise Sons offers Intelligentsia coffee, which is one of my favorite roasters.
I liked seeing all the options available at Wise Sons’ new venture into bagels, but it didn’t seem to bring back memories of eating bagels in New York. They’re solid bagels but the bagel-eating experience seem just as comparable on my side of the bay at Beauty’s Bagel Shop (although its bagels are Montreal-style).
If you’re in the area, it’s a good spot for bagels. But I wouldn’t necessarily make a special trip like how people fly to New York for the real deal.
The deets: Wise Sons Bagel and Bakery, 1520 Fillmore St. (south of Geary), San Francisco. PH: 415.872.9046. Open weekdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; weekends, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Website
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